The Belgravia Dispatch:
Can’t say I’m surprised the first Republican Senator to come out in favor of closing Gitmo is a Cuban-American. The Castro-bashing is made harder, isn’t it, when Fidel can disingenuously and propagandistically play the Gitmo-is-on-my-shores card? And no, I’m not comparing in any way Castro’s decades long corrupt, totalitarian rule to a likely (at least arguably) constitutional detention center set up for enemy combatants during a time of national emergency. But you get my point, I think. And it’s Mel Martinez’s too. It’s a cost-benefit thing. I’m no longer persuaded that the national security and intelligence benefits that Gitmo provides aren’t outweighed by the (yes, often greatly exaggerated) public relations debacle Gitmo has become. I don’t care if ‘smart-piss’ raced around a building and up a vent to despoil the Koran, or if as Max Boot says, detainees defiled more Korans than guards ever did. The utilitarian bottom line here is, now several years out, and putting aside all the grossly hyperbolic claptrap in places like London and Lahore that makes Gitmo out to be some contemporary Auschwitz or Dachau: is Gitmo contributing more to our national security than it is hurting it? And I think the pendelum is certainly swinging more towards the latter of late.
This isn’t a debate about whether or not the United States is as bad as the former Soviet Union- of course we aren’t. Gitmo is not even slightly reminiscent of the Gulag Archipelago, and it was irresponsible for Amnesty International to say so.
It is, however, problematic to simply detain people indefinitely without a larger plan for doing something with them, and it has played into the hands of those who wish to bash America whenever possible. And that has been the most frustrating thing- the ham-handed way we have handled this. Of course most of the opposition to anything the United States has done comes from those who generally oppose the US no matter what. Most of the people who oppose Republican policies happen to be Democrats- but that doesn’t mean you ignore the Democrats when they have a point.
Our attitude was to give the middle finger to everyone, deny there were any problems anywhere, attack the media and attempt to kill the messenger, to lie, delay, and obfuscate, and because of an unwillingness or an inability to confront these issues, Gitmo has become a symbol for all that is wrong with the United States in much of the world’s eyes. Again, as Greg stated, the real important question should be:
The utilitarian bottom line here is, now several years out, and putting aside all the grossly hyperbolic claptrap in places like London and Lahore that makes Gitmo out to be some contemporary Auschwitz or Dachau: is Gitmo contributing more to our national security than it is hurting it?
Pride, standing up to opportunistic America-bashers, and everything else should run a distant second.